Based on rightie and leftie commentary from my Twitter feed, everyone agrees that tonight's debate at Longwood University proves it's an upside-down presidential ticket: Pence and Kaine ought to be at the head, with Trump and Clinton running as VPs.
Kaine is apparently interrupting Pence as much as, or more frequently than, the debate's moderator (Elaine Quijano, Anchor, CBSN and Correspondent, CBS News).
The rightie consensus (unsurprising) is that the moderator is awful.
There have been scattered remarks that the entire debate is awful, but this doesn't dovetail with the observation and Pence and Kaine make for better presidential candidates. I assume the latter sentiment arises from the observation that Pence and Kaine are more articulate, more on-topic, more substantive, and generally smarter-sounding than their running mates are. If this is a higher quality of debate, then it can't be that awful.
Kaine is apparently taking a cue from Trump in terms of interrupting more and using phonetically memorable talking points ("deportation nation").
Overall, it sounds as though Pence is winning on charm points—being gentlemanly while Kaine interrupts him repeatedly. Kaine seems to be painting himself into a "Hillary's attack dog" role. We'll see how well that goes for him and Hillary, I suppose.
I'll await post-debate commentary on the substance of the debate before I say more.
UPDATE: Stephen Green's right-leaning wrap-up:
I usually write a quick wrap after each debate, but I don't know how to do that for you tonight.
This wasn't a debate. This was a two-on-one contest in which Mike Pence held his own on the issues where he's strong, and deflected when he could when held to account for the many careless/thoughtless/stupid things Trump has said as a candidate and as a private citizen.
Pence had a yeoman's task, and I suppose he handled it as well or better as anyone could have hoped or expected.
But it's impossible to take anything away from tonight's "debate," because the "fairness" was kangaroo court judge and the "balance" was Chris Christie on the opposite side of a teeter totter from an underfed Pomeranian.
So if we learned anything tonight, it's that Elaine Quijano is unfit to moderate a debate, and that Tim Kaine is as much of an ass as Hillary Clinton is conniving and corrupt.
And the real shame of it (other than Pence being on the bottom of the ticket) is that I spent so much time in slack-jawed wonder at the awfulness of it all, that I still haven't finished my fourth cocktail.
So if you'll excuse me, there's work yet to be done tonight.
UPDATE 2: a heretofore lifelong Democrat now managing a Trump SuperPAC calls the debate for Pence and shakes his head at what his former boss has become. (Full disclosure: Breitbart.com is an unabashedly rightie site that has been called, by the left, an organ of propaganda. I agree with this assessment to the extent that Breitbart, like Michael Moore [and many others] on the left, makes no bones about its political agenda. That said, check the information in the article against reality before committing the genetic fallacy and simply dismissing it all out of hand.)
UPDATE 3: The Huffington Post, a leftie online rag, makes the case that Pence spent much of the debate trying to convince America that Donald Trump didn't actually say the awful things he's said. HuffPo also claims that Pence didn't actually defend Trump, per se: "Instead, he dodged or outright denied his running mate's statements." Make of that what you will.
UPDATE 4: The Washington Post calls it for Pence:
Winners: Mike Pence:
From the very beginning, Pence was the more comfortable of the two men on the debate stage. Pence repeatedly turned to the camera when he answered questions, making clear he understood that the real audience wasn't in the room but watching on TV. The Indiana governor was calm, cool and collected throughout — a stark contrast to the fast-talking (and seemingly nervous) Kaine. Did Pence respond to Kaine's dozens of attacks on Donald Trump? Only sort of. What Pence seemed to be doing was making the case for Pence-ism, a, dare I say it, compassionate conservatism — a case for Pence 2020 or 2024. Regardless, Trump will very much take it, as Pence's performance will offer a reset of sorts for a campaign that is scrambling badly due to self-inflicted wounds from the nominee. Win or lose in 24 days, Pence did himself real good in the eyes of the Republican world on Tuesday night.
UPDATE 5: Nate Silver's 538 is currently giving Hillary a 75-25 chance of winning the election. These odds probably don't reflect the aftermath of the vice-presidential debate; that's going to take a few days to sink in. Trump had been at a high of 45% on Silver's site; he's lost 20 percentage points since that high.
UPDATE 6: CNN's extremely jumbled, conflicted analysis (if taken as a whole) is here.
UPDATE 7: Styx calls it for Pence, saying Pence "decimated" Kaine on foreign policy, and noting that Kaine obsessively repeated a scripted attack on Trump's tax returns, even to the point of dodging substantive questions in order to remain focused on those tax returns. Styx says Pence had two good zingers for every one of Kaine's, and that Kaine seemed much less comfortable on camera. To my surprise, Styx loved the moderator, whom he considered perfectly fair in her management of the debate.